Monthly Archives: June 2013

Patriot Week

All this week, in celebration of America’s 237th birthday, and to honor the patriots that served this country, we will be doing Hero workouts.  Now I know that Hero workouts have now become synonymous with total beat downs, but we promise the programming this week will still be smart, balanced, and challenging.  Let’s get after it.


A perfect demonstration of the two required positions of the burpee from Wyatt and Trenton.


All Levels & Intermediate Classes

Skill: muscle-up and handstand push-up practice

Beginner Class

Skill: kipping handstand push-up progression



20 minute AMRAP of:

2 muscle-ups

4 handstand push-ups

8 kettlebell swings (70#/44# for women)


Time To Get Excited…

It’s time to get excited.  “Hang on a second Brian, what is this unfounded, sudden burst of enthusiasm all about?”  Honestly, I really just wanted to make this blog entry about my new favorite recipe, but I found another reason.  Every so often, I find it necessary to sit down and check in with myself.  Really take a minute and remind myself why I’m here, why I train, and eat the way I do.  It’s time to re-assess and get excited about the long term benefits of exercise and eating clean.  It’s time to get excited about the delicious foods available to help accomplish goals.  Why are you here?  Why do you train?  It could be to prevent diabetes.  Lose weight.  Get stronger.  Train for a sport.  Look good naked.  Speaking of things to get excited about, here’s a fantastic recipe from Sarah Fragoso.  It’s extremely easy to make and it’ll yield enough food for a few days.  The time is now, get excited.  



Don’t forget we will not be here this Saturday.  We’ll meet at Mulholland Fountain for a park WOD, capture the flag with water balloons, and much more fun!  It’ll be a total blast, but also extremely hot so be sure and bring plenty of water and sun block.  More info here.


Beyond-Easy Pulled Pork

Dry Rub
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/4 ssp chipotle powder
2 tsp salt

4-5 pound pork butt roast or shoulder
2 yellow onions

Mix the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub the entire roast with the dry rub (use it all).  Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom of your slow cooker.  Place the roast on top.  Put the rest of the sliced onions on top of the roast.  (No liquid is necessary.)  Cook the roast on high for 5-6 hours, and turn it down to low for another 3-4 hours or until the roast is falling apart and easy to shred.



Rope climbs

Workout of the Day:

15 minute AMRAP of:

20 wallball shots (20# for men/14# for women)

10 toes to bar

10 burpees

*Upscaling option for advanced: 1 rope climb

*Beginners will substitute V-Ups for toes to bar

CrossFit Gym Bag Essentials

One of the great things about CrossFit is its vastness in movements.  From barbell lifts to rope climbs to jumping rope, CrossFit incorporates the best of gymnastics, weightlifting, and cardiovascular conditioning.  Because of this, you are going to need a few key items in your gym bag.  Here is a ranking of items that should be in CrossFit gym bag.

Echelon 1 (Most Essential Items):

Water Bottle – You should be drinking water throughout the day, at least half your bodyweight in ounces.  Fill it up at the gym when you arrive and sip throughout class.

Workout Journal – Whether it’s on your phone or in a notebook, your journal is key to your success.  You need to be able to look up your previous lifts and workout times so you can set an accurate goal and measure your progress.  Need more reasons to keep a journal?  Read this.

Athletic Tape – Pull-ups, toes to bar, kettlebell swings, snatches…CrossFit can certainly be tough on the hands.  And you don’t want your hands looking like this:

That’s not cool.  Take care of your hands and tape them up if there’s going to be a lot of pulling with them during the workout.  Watch this video if you don’t know how to tape and protect your hands.

Echelon 2 (Extremely Helpful Items):

Jump Rope – Having your own rope, fitted to your height, and in the style you like is nice.  You don’t have to worry about the rope being too long or too short in the middle of a workout as you’re going for an Annie PR.

Long Socks – Just like torn hands are nasty and painful, busted up shins from deadlifts, snatches, or clean, or burns from climbing the rope are gross as well.  Pull up the socks and protect the legs.  

Wrist Wraps – We do a lot of overhead work that can be pretty tough of the wrists.  Wrist wraps can definitely help with your overhead lifts and even with some gymnastics movements like handstands.  You should definitely try to go as long as you can without wearing your wraps, to safely stress the joint so it will naturally adapt and strengthen, but wrist wraps definitely have a role when doing max lifts.

Echelon 3 (If You Have These, You’re Serious About Your CrossFitting):

Weightlifting Shoes – You squat, snatch, and clean and jerk, multiple times a week, and your Nanos or Inov-8s just aren’t cutting it anymore…you want a little bit more of a raised heel and a more stable foot foundation when going for that 200# snatch.  Weightlifting shoes run about $100 to $200 but are an investment and should last you several years.  Adidas and Rogue have good weightlifting shoes for under $120.

Weightlifting Belt – When you start squatting over 1.5 to 2 times bodyweight on a regular basis, a weightlifting belt is useful.  A cautionary note, it is not a silver bullet that allows you to totally, or even partially, relax your midline when you lift.  If you cannot sustain intra-abdominal pressure without a belt when lifting, then a belt won’t help either.  I only use a weightlifting belt when going for a PR, everything before that is sans belt.  For more information on belts, read this article.

Knee Sleeves – When you bust these out, we know you’re serious.  If nothing else, you’ll look the part of a top CrossFitter.

Camille’s rockin’ weightlifting shoes, knee sleeves, a belt, and wraps.

Knee sleeves keep the joints warm and provide extra stability.  Many top weightlifters use them on their max lifts when they are deep in the hole of a snatch or clean.  

As essential as all these items are, don’t ever forget to place your humility in your gym bag.  CrossFit is tough, and you can’t let your ego get in the way of making progress.  


All Classes

Skill:  Bench Press



3 rounds for time:

12 kettlebell swings (70#/44# for women)

15 box jumps (24″/20″ for women)

40 double unders

300 meter run

Advanced Class

Trial By Fire WOD retest

A Special Guest Blog by Brodie Foster


CrossFit Merge has got to be one of the coolest boxes around! Our athletes are seriously some of the best people you could ever run into. Brodie and Megan are some of the wonderful members that make our community so unique and amazing. Brodie is an excellent writer who has been blogging about his CrossFit experience. Today, we get to read one of his entries on “Progress”. And without further ado, hear it from Brodie:

Change is inevitable. Progress is an unstoppable force. It’s lucky for me that I’m such an adaptable creature. Sometimes, it’s overwhelmed me. My life has had its share of drama, tragedies, and anxieties. I’ve cried in the corner when I’ve needed to but I’ve wiped my tears and carried on. The more I’ve been through, the more I’ve had to choose between breaking or bending, I’ve better realized that every shakeup is a chance at improvement, maybe even reinvention.

This attitude has helped me, as I understand they say in the military, “embrace the suck.” Not that I would equate any bad relationships or career troubles over the years with a tour of duty in the Middle East. But if I could put a new spin on the phrase, I have also been applying this philosophy to running full throttle at things I’m horrible at. I’m not good in the kitchen, so I baked blondie bars. They were good – of course, they were from a Trader Joe’s mix. I’m not whipping things together from scratch yet. But I’ll keep trying new recipes. Another example – I was bad at pushups all my life, but I got better at them this month by forcing myself to do a lot of them near daily.

The same thing happened with deadlifts. It was one of the first things I attempted and failed in CrossFit, so I started concentrating on practicing them. Now, I’m deadlifting 1.25 times my bodyweight.

Merge is where I did the first Olympic weightlifting in my life. Years ago, even one year ago, I never would have envisioned myself taking on such an endeavor. But I’m getting stronger. I see my body changing. There’s actually muscles showing in my arms. I want to keep going. I want to see what else is possible.

Progress is just as important with things we’re good at. A lot of CrossFitters I know hate box jumps but I loved them right away. Many WODs prescribe 24″ boxes for the guys and I achieved that relatively quickly. That’s why I was happy to take on a skill practice one night where me and the rest of the class kept increasing the height of our boxes to see how high we could go with five unbroken box jumps. Over the next several weekends in open gym, I continued this challenge, and I made it to five unbroken box jumps at 40″.

In many aspects of my life, I look back at what I was and am glad at where I am. Glad… but not satisfied. Not complacent. There’s always more I can do, more I can learn, more I can take on. Having been nudged out of my comfort zone, I am inspired to tackle new challenges.

Progress is beautiful. Evolution is the journey that makes the destination worth it. I’m excited to see where all my travels take me and what they make me.


All Levels/Intermediate Skill:

3 power cleans + 3 front squats + 3 push jerks

5 sets, increasing in weight

Beginner Skill:

From the rack:

3 front squats + 3 push presses
5 sets, increasing in weight

Workout of the day (WOD):

4 rounds for time:

7 power cleans (135/93)
7 lateral bar hop burpees
100 meter run

*Beginners will sub front squats from the rack and regular burpees

Weightlifting Class:

Snatches from position 1 and to mid-thigh and stand up


To Kick Off The Summer…

This Saturday 6/29/2013, bring your A -Game to WOD it up at the park with your fellow mergers.  A few reminders to make this day a super fun experience:

1) Show up on time.  The “5 burpees per minute” penalty is still in effect!
2) Bring water.  It will be hot, you will be running around doing a WOD and playing games, you’ll want to stay hydrated.
3) Bring sun block.  We all want a tan, none of us want a sunburn 🙂
4) Pack a lunch.  You may be out there for a few hours, so plan accordingly and bring sustenance for yourself! 
5) Bring water guns, water balloons, soccer balls, kick balls, frisbees, etc.  CrossFitters are good at oh so many more things than just WODs 😉
6) Come ready to have fun and take loads of pictures!

Here are the details once again:

This Saturday June 29 there will be no classes held at CrossFit Merge.  Instead, we will all meet at 10 am at the Mulholland Fountain off of Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039.  Once again, there will be NO classes held at Merge, all the action will go down at the park.  This event is open to all Mergers and will not count toward one of your weekly classes!  Things will kickoff with a fun WOD for all levels.  After that, stick around and get to know your fellow CrossFit Mergers while playing games. Bring water, pack a lunch, grab your favorite park games and hang out with us! :
What:  WOD and Kickball/Frisbee/Water Games @ The Park by Mulholland Fountain
When:  Saturday, June 29 at 10 am (be on time, or there will be a burpee penalty!)
Where:  Mulholland Fountain –  Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90039 (see attachment for parking/exact meeting location)
Why:  Because we all love to hang out and WOD together!

All Levels Skill:

Row 250 meters, rest 30 seconds x 3

Record all 3 scores  

Workout of the Day (WOD):


20 minute AMRAP of:

5 handstand pushups

10 pistols

15 pull ups

Coach Brian hosts "The Throwdown Revisted"!

Coach Brian hosts “The Throwdown Revisted”!

Bon Voyage

It was a sad day on CrossFit Merge last Saturday because we had to say goodbye to Laura and Cillian.  This hip young couple came to our community about a year ago and didn’t hesitant in jumping right into all the CrossFit fun.

They showed up to class every time with smiles, alacrity, and terrific attitudes.  They worked hard and consistently, and their fitness gains were only surpassed by the number of friends they made here.  We will for sure miss them, and I hope they can visit soon for a workout.

Just a few of their many great photos.


All Classes

Skill:  Back squat



10 minute Work Capacity Test

4 minutes max row for calories

1 minute rest

3 minutes of max pull-ups

1 minute rest

2 minutes max back squats (bodyweight/ 3/4 bodyweight for women)

1 minute rest

1 minute of max push presses/jerks (135#/93# for women)

Score is total reps and calories

Attitude Nation Salute!

Attitude Nation Salute!  This is Brian checking in with another blog post.  Turn the AC up and roll your windows down because this is gonna be a good one. 

I had the great opportunity to attend a weightlifting seminar featuring THE Jon North!  It was an amazing experience and even though I was unable to lift heavy due to my injury, I still learned a lot and had a great time soaking it all in.  Knowledge was dropped, PR’s were had, bars were slammed, HAM sandwiches were eaten, and a great time was had by all.  

The day started with a big “cheers” from Jon as he saluted us with his favorite Venti iced coffee.  The entire room (approximately 30 of us) was mesmerized as Jon cracked jokes, shared his fantastic and at times very dark  history, how he discovered weightlifting, and the birth of Attitude Nation.  Immediately following the intro, a very anxious crowd grabbed our own empty bars and fell into place as we followed Jon and his assistant Ryan through various different technique, drills and max out sessions.  

At the end of the day, everyone gathered around and watched as he and Derrick Johnson put on a spectacular show for us as they trained together.  Then, everyone’s face melted as he snatched 155kg, that’s 341lbs!!!  I learned so much that day and cannot wait to share the knowledge with my CrossFit Merge community.  


AC up, windows down!


Derrick Johnson


Jon North is a righteous dude and a man after my own heart with his philosophies on weightlifting, crazy antics, and all or nothing attitude.  He is an American weightlifter and Olympic hopeful who currently holds the record for best snatch in his weight class.  166 kg/365.2 lbs.  I encourage you all to watch his videos, read his blog The Dark Orchestra, listen to his Weightlifting Talk podcast and soak up everything you can from this guy.  Here’s one of my favorite videos which exhibits incredible weightlifting, fantastic ball busting, and endless hilarity:

Here he is unofficially breaking the American record in his weight class:

And Brian ain’t too shabby either.   9.5 on the bar slam too.


All Levels, Intermediate, and Beginner Skill:

Review Hollow Rocks

3 rounds, 2 minutes each:

Run 200 meters

AMRAP hollow rocks

Rest 30 seconds

Workout of the Day (WOD)

21-15-9 reps of:

Left arm kettlebell snatch (53# for men/35# for women)

Right arm kettlebell snatch

Pull ups

Beginner Workout of the Day (WOD):

10 minute AMRAP of:

10 Left arm dumbbell snatch

10 Right arm dumbbell snatch

10 Pull-Ups

Second Chance Throwdown

So you’ve seen the cool photos from last week’s Throwdown…

Get it, Tiffany!

…and from the videos, the Throwdown workouts looked uber fun…

…but you just couldn’t make it in last Saturday. Well have no fear, because this Sunday you can come in for the 10am class and hit up all the Throwdown workouts. That’s right, Epic Sunday will consist of our three team Throwdown WOD’s: Squat Face, The Dead End, and Girls Gone Wild.

You can come in with a set team of four, or we’ll divide you up into teams of your choice (two, three, or four people) on Sunday. Even if you did the Throwdown, maybe you want to try it again but with a different team or doing a different part of Girls Gone Wild. And if you’re feeling really saucy, you can even do the tie-breaker, winner take all WOD. Sounds fun, right? See you then.


All Classes

Skill: Press



For time:

10 man makers (40#/25# dumbbells for women)

1 burpee

9 man makers

2 burpees

8 man makers

3 burpees

7 man makers

4 burpees…continue until

1 man maker

10 burpees

Continue reading

Special Guest Blog by Marlen Bugarin

Our very own Marlen Bugarin went on an exciting trip to Tanzania.   Upon her return, she was kind enough to share her story with us.  Read up guys, it’s so awesome! 😀 and thanks Marlen for being part of our Merge community and sharing your experience with us.  We are so glad you’re back!

Marlen at Summit

Our summit attempt to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro finally arrived. It’s was a little before 2 a.m. and one of the porters, Yusuph, kindly came by to wake me up as he had every day since we started. I’d been awake for hours though from a combination of the altitude and excitement. Altitude has some strange effects on sleep and there had been very little sleep for me in the previous five days. And little would I know just how many surprises my journey to the “roof of Africa” would hold for me. When asked about my trek, I struggle to answer because it is a hard climb. Sure, I had challenges  on the mountain, due to the lack of sleep, steep climbs at high altitudes and the long exhausting summit day, but somehow that’s not what I remember. I remember the people, the incredible Team Kilimanjaro crew – all 13 of them- from lead guide (Joshua), assistant guide (Julius) down to the last porter (Godlove). They are the ones that got us to the top. Our entire team worked incredibly hard and it was humbling to witness.

We had been at basecamp, Barafu, less than 12 hours and the altitude here and lack of sleep was by far the biggest challenge for me on the trek. At 15,200 feet, I was breathing 50 percent of the oxygen I would have at sea level. The slightest movement left me winded and every movement took significant effort, even putting my hiking boots on. I got up cautiously. For a moment, I began second-guessing the idea of our summit attempt a day early, but focused on staying positive. To save time and energy, I had prepared everything a few hours earlier and went to sleep with my summit gear on so I would be ready to go.

Mount Kilimanjaro

After drinking the coffee Yusuph brought me, I stepped out of my tent into the cold early morning to join the rest of the group to begin our ascent. Julius, our assistant guide, would always begin our hikes with the Swahili phrase “Imara Kama Simba, Strong like a lion!” This is how he would pump us up before our hikes and it would always make us laugh. We were in good spirits and excited about the ascent. Joshua, our lead guide, had briefed us on our summit plan a day early, breaking down the five different sections of the summit (A, B, C, D and E). To me, it was similar to doing five different WODs all in one day and at night. Or at least that’s what I thought about as we began the ascent.

It was 3 a.m. when we set out in the cold. Joshua was in the front setting the pace, and Julius was at the back with Yusuph. It was dark, and all had our headlamps in place, patiently placing one foot after the other, taking in deep breaths. As we climbed higher in altitude, closer to the arctic zone, it got colder and more uncomfortable and we had to make quick stops to add layers and avoid freezing.  Halfway through my water line froze. Joshua, Julius and Yusuph were at the ready to help us with these adjustments, carrying double the weight with extra equipment in case it was necessary. The ascent was not nearly as bad as I had imagined – we were chipping away and before we knew it, the hardest part (section D) was over.

Marlen_Summit and Glacier

We reached Stella Point and I could finally see my final destination. It was within sight. I was anxious to keep going but I had to pace myself. After the break at Stella Point, I started to feel some altitude sickness – slight throbbing head and upset stomach. We continued at a steady pace. The “short” one hour to the top felt like the longest hour to me. I had a clear view of the beautiful glaciers and finally, I had reached the top and was standing at 19, 341 feet. It took us eight hours to cover approximately 2.5 miles in distance just to get to the top and another three hours to descend to basecamp.

I first caught a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago while camping in Kenya near Tanzania. I decided then I would return to climb it. A year later, I began preparing for the seven-day trek on the Machame route, one of the more common routes but also a bit more physically challenging.

After all, that is what I wanted, a little something outside of my comfort zone.


My training included Crossfit Merge, running (I logged more than 300 miles in training including my fourth LA Marathon) and countless hikes up to Mt. Baldy on the Old School trail, one of the steepest hills locally. But I knew that that alone was not going to be enough. I had read countless blogs on people that had climbed it and they described it as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Others compared it to the pain of childbirth, of which I had no clue about; and athletes, such as legendary tennis player Martina Navratilova, described their failures due to altitude. So it was hard to manage my expectations. In my mind, I was preparing for one of the biggest physical and mental challenges in my life.


All Levels/Intermediate Skill:



*touch and go

All Levels/Intermediate Workout of the Day (WOD):

For time, complete 15-12-9 reps of:

Power cleans (155/103) or 70% of skill

Ring Dips

Toes to Bar

Beginner Skill:

Front Squat


Beginner Workout of the Day (WOD):

15 minute AMRAP of:

10 Dumbbell hang cleans

12 Push Ups

15 V-ups

Olympic Lifting:

7 clean and jerks at 90% of 1 rm 

7 Biggest CrossFit Mistakes

Excellent article from The Box, The 7 Biggest CrossFit Mistakes.  Awesome tips on how to avoid these and fix them.  Which ones (or how many) are you guilty of? 😉

For every CrossFitter killing it workout after workout, posting legit numbers and seeing his strength, mobility and endurance flourish, there’s the guy cutting corners or going overboard with his training, risking injury (and perhaps his reputation) in the process. Mistakes and faux pas are prevalent in every training discipline, and CrossFit is no exception. Here, two experienced athletes and trainers share their biggest pet peeves to keep you from being “that guy” (or girl).

Mistake #1: Kipping Without a Base of Strength

All you need to do is look at the “for time” direction on “Fran” to realize why kipping pull-ups are more popular among CrossFitters than strict, dead-hang pull-ups. “CrossFit rewards efficiency, so you don’t have to look at the two movements [kipping and strict pull-ups] long to realize that kipping is faster and more efficient,” says Logan Gelbrich, a CrossFit Games competitor and Level 1 trainer at CrossFit Los Angeles who also holds certifications in CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting and Coaches Prep.

“Folks who don’t have the strength to accomplish strict pull-ups or muscle-ups will often bypass the process of growing strength in the strict fashion and will learn kipping, and with that comes increased potential for injury,” he says. Most notably are  wear-and-tear injuries to the shoulder joint, like rotator-cuff and labrum tears.

Fix it: Gelbrich’s stance is that you should be able to do at least five strict pull-ups before doing kipping pull-ups or muscle-ups as part of a workout. “It’s not that you necessarily have to do dead-hang pull-ups for two weeks,” he says. “If you have the strength to do them, it’s irrelevant. You can absolutely kip and kip safely.”

Mistake #2: Cherry-Picking WODs 

Consistency is key to success on any training program, and selecting only certain CrossFit workouts while bypassing others, buffet-style, is the polar opposite of being consistent. “A lot of beginners to CrossFit are really focused on what the Workout of the Day is, and they realize that they’re better at some movements than others,” says Dusty Hyland, owner of DogTown CrossFit in Culver City, Calif. “So they conveniently find ways not to make it to the gym when the WOD calls for things they’re really inefficient at or lack coordination in. A great example would be jumping rope. A lot of people will skip a workout if there’re double-unders in it, especially if they’re brand new to CrossFit.”

Fix it: To establish consistency and minimize cherry-picking among his gym members, Hyland introduces beginners to only two to three workouts a week, consisting of a wide range of movements and skills that need to be improved on in addition to areas of strength. “If we get a consistent training module in,” Hyland says, “then we can increase the frequency to four or five days a week. But if you’re only going to CrossFit one day a week, you’re just punishing your body, so you need to stick to the program. If you can’t, you’re never going to reach your goals.”

Mistake #3: Half-Assing Your Workouts

Cherry-picking WODs shows a lack of commitment to a CrossFit program in general, but not being fully engaged to each individual training session is equally problematic, if not more dangerous. If you’re just going through the motions, you’re not really doing CrossFit. “This isn’t a boot-camp class,” Hyland says. “We’re going to teach you how to move better, how to get stronger and how to be a more mobile human being so that you can do things outside of the gym for a long time. You need to be ready and prepared, bottom line. You can’t half-commit to this because it’ll just crush you.”

Fix it: For starters, show up to the gym on time. “The people who are casual and consistently late aren’t giving themselves the full deal,” Hyland says. “Being on time is going to allow you to warm up, work on the things you need to work on and be ready to do the workout correctly. If you’re rushing the workout and rushing to leave, you’re going to get hurt. You need to be ready and prepared, bottom line, or you’re never going to be successful.”

Mistake #4: Overtraining

Obviously, this mistake isn’t limited to CrossFit. Overtraining occurs in every discipline, from powerlifting to bodybuilding, as well as training for sport or endurance. But the results are pretty much all the same: decreased performance and increased injury risk. “Your training is only as good as your recovery,” Gelbrich says. “A lot of people — especially endurance athletes — get into CrossFit and see that a Workout of the Day is only eight minutes long and say, ‘That’s it? What else do I do with the rest of the hour?’ Given that there’s generally a shorter, more intense time frame, it’s hard for people to wrap their mind around the fact that training this way is enough. So overtraining happens, and people train more days per week than maybe they’re ready for, and they’re not able to recover, which kind of negates the premise of training in the first place.”

So how much is too much? Unfortunately, there’s no black-and-white answer to that question; what constitutes overtraining varies from person to person. “People ask me, ‘Are two-a-days OK?’ Well, four-a-days are OK if you can recover from it,” Gelbrich says. “Very few people have a fitness level to do that, however. For some athletes, it’s perfectly appropriate to train three times a day, six days a week. If I did that, I’d be overtrained. So it really does depend on the athlete.”

Fix it: First, you need to recognize the signs of overtraining: inordinate levels of muscle soreness following a workout; a general feeling of extreme fatigue during the day; mood swings and irritability; not hitting your usual marks on WODs (decreased performance); and elevated resting heart rate first thing in the morning, which is an indicator typically monitored more by more experienced athletes.

To avoid overtraining altogether, Gelbrich advises CrossFit newbies to start out doing only two or three WODs per week and progressing from there. For those already in an overtrained state, he says to first look at your sleep and nutrition habits. “If you’re sleeping and eating well, the only other variable is to cut back on training,” Gelbrich says.

Mistake #5: Too Much Competing, Not Enough Training

Competition is at the very core of CrossFit. Pushing yourself to beat a personal record on a benchmark WOD or simply wanting to “hold your own” with others training alongside you at your gym produces results that would be next to impossible to achieve in a noncompetitive environment. That said, when every workout is a competition in which the only goal is to do X amount of work in less time or more work in X minutes, you’re missing out on some key training adaptations.

“It’s important to differentiate between training and competition,” Gelbrich says. “There’s a time and a place for competition, and it’s very useful, but treating every workout session like a competition is a good way to lead to overtraining, injuries and poor technique.”

Fix it: Slow down a little. Sure, this might hurt some of your workout times, but it’s the only way to improve movements in terms of flexibility, skill level and mastering proper form, especially in areas of weakness.

“The better the movement, the more access you’ll have to increased fitness,” Gelbrich says. “We’ll use the squat as an example. If my hips are too immobile to achieve full squat depth, I’ll always be hindered because of that. If I can improve my hip mobility and maximize that movement, I’ve opened more doors that access more fitness. If I’m always competing and I’m not slowing down enough to learn and improve movements, that competition attitude will build a ceiling above me for my fitness gains. Training is important in terms of increasing ROM, nailing down skills and improving habits so that when I need to compete later on, I have more output and more ability.”

Mistake #6: Lack of Accountability on ROM

Accountability applies to many things, but in this case, we’re talking specifically about what you write on the whiteboard after a day’s workout. “Accountability is the biggest issue with range of motion on movements,” Hyland says. “If you’re putting big numbers up on the board but you’re not squatting to full depth and you’re not doing real push-ups, ultimately you’ll fail, you won’t stick to the program. And sooner or later, people are going to be like, ‘You’re kind of a D-bag.’ And not because your number’s bigger than mine but because you’re not really satisfying the requirement of the workout.”

On the competitive side of CrossFit, this often presents itself in the form of the athlete who apparently performs well in open competitions held at his or her affiliate gym but then goes to a regional competition and literally can’t complete a workout because of insufficient range of motion. At all levels, such training habits will diminish results and promote injury. “If you can’t squat at depth on an air squat, how are we ever going to get 300 pounds on your back — or whatever your goal may be?” Hyland says. “Bad repeated motor patterns equate to injury, muted hip function and poor posture. We don’t want to reinforce bad behavior.”

Fit it: Be a stickler on your form, evens if it means a slower workout time because you’re going down farther on squats — below parallel instead of just above it. Also, don’t be a prisoner to the whiteboard; understand its purpose. “You’re not putting your workout up on the board as a declaration of your fitness,” Hyland says. “It’s more about accountability, knowing what you’re lifting and knowing where you’re headed. As coaches, we look at the board and we look at your results, but step one is really just to get those numbers on the board.”

Mistake #7: Avoiding Scaling for Rx Distinction

Scaling is a key component of CrossFit training, the means by which you and, say, Rich Froning can do the exact same workout and get equal results. But it’s also one of the most underused components of CrossFit, mainly because scaling often involves picking a lighter weight and not achieving the coveted “as prescribed” distinction.

But scaling is not only underused; it’s also misunderstood. The way Gelbrich sees it, just because you’re able to do a given WOD as prescribed doesn’t mean you should. Scaling doesn’t exist only to help you complete a workout; it’s also there to help you achieve the workout as it was intended. Take “Fran,” for example. Many would say that if you’re able to complete all reps (21-15-9) at the prescribed weights (95 pounds for thrusters, bodyweight/no assistance on pull-ups), then you should, even if it takes you 20 minutes. Gelbrich disagrees. “That would be inappropriate scaling,” he says. “Yes, the athlete achieved the Rx distinction, but that’s not the response that workout is looking for. Fran should be a really short, high-intensity workout intended to be just a few minutes long. The question is, Can you do all those pull-ups and all those thrusters in six minutes or less? If so, you’re feeling the same experience as the world-class CrossFit athlete who’s doing Fran in two minutes flat.”

Fix it: When deciding whether to scale down on a particular workout, determine what an appropriate time or work output should be. If you’re that guy who does Fran as prescribed in 20 minutes, drop the weight on the thrusters by 20 to 30 pounds, do the pull-ups with elastic bands and try to complete the workout in six minutes or less. Don’t just finish the workout — finish it while achieving “the type of response you’re supposed to get out of it,” Gelbrich says. “That’s where the training gains are made. As you build strength and power output, you can work your way up. It takes maturity to take a step back, but you really need to check your ego at the door.”

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All Levels/Beginners Skill:



In between deadlift sets, 5 muscle-up kips

Workout of the Day (WOD):

Triple Tabata

Kettlebell swings (53# for men/35# for women)
Box Jumps (24″ for men/20″ for women)
Air Squats

Score is total reps